Capturing Motor City Soul Through The Camera Lens
(Steve Furay, Common Breath Media, March 25, 2015)
Picking up a camera and capturing the magic of Motown has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, giving me an opportunity to be an active participant in one of the great urban revitalization processes in modern history, catching glimpses of musicians in action and delivering polished videos that continue to prove the extraordinary level of talent that exists in the city. To date, I’ve been able to produce over seven hours of video through my YouTube web page (http://youtube.com/commonbreathmedia), exploring the arts, music and community of the city in a way that reflects my own artistic vision and optimism for the future of Detroit, the state of Michigan, and the entire world.
My journey through a camera lens began long before I would consider it an artistic venture, but I always understood myself to be a storyteller. After committing myself to becoming a journalist and receiving a graduate degree out of state, I decided that images would be a great compliment to the words I was crafting, and necessary in today’s world of web multimedia. Taking the leap from still shots to the moving action of video was natural, combining my love of cinema with my commitment to the story.
This has been my journey as creator of Common Breath Media, a web magazine that I began as a way to journalistically explore the incredible stories that have been unraveling in our times with the expressive artistic activism of the creative minds of the world. In particular, I was drawn to hip hop culture because of the urgent manner it spoke to young people and the way it has been unifying people around the world.
Every global issue of concern in today’s times, I believe, will necessarily be solved by young people coming together from all corners of the globe, so this is where I turned my attention. Over the past several years, in addition to writing for the Common Breath Media website, I’ve also written for The Michigan Citizen newspaper, which recently closed its operation, and now for The Telegram Newspaper in River Rouge serving the Downriver community. Having my writing in print is incredibly valuable as a journalist, but being able to explore the city through a camera lens has got my greatest attention.
The idea of creating music videos began with camera, a computer program and a collection of songs from the Detroit hip hop group 5 ELA, who I became a collaborator with in exploring the changes taking place in the city. In 2011, we produced a collection of three videos, sparking my imagination of the potential for the medium to convey a message to the entire world. It seemed the world was identifying with the Motor City’s cause and seeking new ways to reach out, like so many did at the 2010 World Social Forum.
The first videos were raw and poetic, as the group and I would roll out through the city and explore the terrain, gathering images as we go and finding the most authentic places for them to be seen on camera. This was easy considering the rich history that 5 ELA has throughout Detroit, as some of the pioneers of a hip hop scene that would begin the successful careers of so many greats, including Eminem.
5 ELA “Turn It Around” :
Eventually, I would expand my creative venture to create the web series DETROIT INTERGALACTIC, the name being a play off the artist collective STARFLEET Official formed with 5 ELA, Dj LaJedi, Black Bethoven, myself and more. Our goal was a fresh, optimistic and interstellar approach to our art, and the intent of DETROIT INTERGALACTIC has been to capture live concert footage of Motor City artists and create short, 5-10 minute web videos displaying the best of their talents. To date, I have produced 15 videos in the series and highlighted dozens of artists, giving them another outlet to share their talents with the universe.
DETROIT INTERGALACTIC ::: Michael Monford Jazz & Funk Sunday Listening Session :
I’ve continued to create music videos for other artists, with fourteen music videos to date, using the medium to explore the city and the soul of the people. Most recently, I produced a video for the Detroit rap artist D.S.Sense and her song that was included on a project mixed by Dj LaJedi, ‘World Hip Hop Women: SoundSIStem’. The video includes images of all 19 women involved in the project, representing 15 different nations around the world. The beauty and power possessed in a three minute clip is awe inspiring, strengthening my commitment in creating music videos as both an art, a documentation of the greatness of Detroit music, and as a way to bring creative energies together in a unique, thought-provoking manner.
D.S.Sense ‘Get In The Flow’ presented by Dj LaJedi & World Hip Hop Women (Official Video) :
In the future, I hope to create more videos of both live concerts, art festivals and social justice based gatherings, where my lens will be able to capture the strength, resilience and passion of a city known around the world for its brilliance. I believe these are opportunities for people to come together across the world, especially the youth, as they have more ways than ever before to see their own reflection in the faces of others who live either around the corner or a galaxy away.
STARFLEET Official ::: 2015 Love Liberation ::: Shine On
Steve Furay is a journalist, videographer and founder of Common Breath Media, and is the Intergalactic Communications Commander for STARFLEET Official.
Capturing Motor City Soul Through The Camera Lens